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RespectAbility Wins Award at United Nations for Fighting Stigmas in Hollywood

3,000+ Experts from 70+ Countries Involved

Washington, D.C., March 27 – RespectAbility, a United States based nonprofit organization fighting stigmas and advancing opportunities for and with people with disabilities, was recognized for “Innovative Practice 2019 on Independent Living and Political Participation for People with Disabilities” at the United Nations in Vienna, Austria.

The prize is for RespectAbility’s work in fighting stigmas through Hollywood and job creation for people with disabilities. Fully 1-in-5 people on earth (1.2 billion people) live with some form of disability. Since 2013, RespectAbility has been enabling people with disabilities to achieve economic independence by increasing positive and accurate representation of people with disabilities in Hollywood and the news media, encouraging best practices in employment and training young leaders with disabilities.

RespectAbility has created the Hollywood Disability Inclusion Toolkit and enhanced the Emmy Award-winning TV show “Born This Way,” starring diverse people with Down syndrome. By promoting employment opportunities, the organization collaborates with Hollywood writers to promote positive, accurate, and diverse portrayals of disability. RespectAbility also focuses on employment by publishing reports on best practices, providing testimony, and creating resources for policy makers. At the political level, RespectAbility has candidate questionnaires and nonpartisan voter guides in all 50 U.S. States.

RespectAbility’s founder and president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, accepted the award on behalf of RespectAbility’s team. In a video shared by The Zero Project, Mizrahi said that “we are making progress, we have a long way to go.”

To see all the winners, go to: https://zeroproject.org/2019-awardees.

More than 3,000 experts and disability leaders from 70+ countries were involved in the The Zero Project Conference. This event, founded by the Essl Foundation, brought together over 700 experts from more than 70 countries and 30 exhibitors.

RespectAbility’s founder and president, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, co-delivered a keynote presentation at the conference with Lisa Trygg, a Senior Program Officer with the May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust. Trygg said that RespectAbility is a “trailblazer in using media and the Hollywood entertainment industry to help end public stigma and stereotypes and to advance opportunities for individuals with disabilities to lead more independent lives.” Mizrahi added that “What we see and hear impacts our thoughts and feelings, which can literally have life and death consequences…We are grateful to all the companies we get to work with and we know the number of people with disabilities getting acting jobs, thanks to them, has at least doubled since last year.” Download the slide deck as a PDF here, and watch the full presentation below with live embedded captions.

Says Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, “We are honored to have this recognition and hope to use it as a way to encourage disability leaders and organizations around the world to battle stigmas and advance positive and accurate representation of people with disabilities. You don’t have to be in Hollywood to make a difference. Every community has someone with a disability who can partner with you to share a story of success through the news or other media.”

RespectAbility also trains 25 to 30 young professionals a year, with and without disabilities, to become future leaders of the disability movement. To date, graduates of its National Leadership Program have gone on to work at the World Bank, the US Government, Hollywood and top universities. To learn more about RespectAbility, go to www.RespectAbility.org or email JenniferM@RespectAbility.org.

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Meet the Author

Eric Ascher
Eric Ascher

Eric Ascher is the Communications Associate for RespectAbility. He is responsible for supporting RespectAbility’s Communications Director in developing and implementing advocacy efforts and communications of various types. Ascher manages RespectAbility’s social media channels, website and emails; organizes and develops webinars; and supervises Communications Fellows.

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